Vivense recently opened their first furniture showroom by the Cevahir shopping mall in Istanbul. You can check out a picture from their showroom and see the showroom’s exact location at Vivense’s website.

E-commerce accounts for about 1% of all retail sales in Turkey. It’s even lower in non-commodity product categories with high purchase prices. Furniture is a great example of this. Each piece of furniture is different and the price of furniture is in the hundreds of dollars. As a result, fewer people buy furniture online than commodity phones, low priced clothing, or both commodity and low priced books.

Armed with this information, one approach is to wait it out. E-commerce penetration will gradually rise in Turkey across all categories and furniture will also benefit. This isn’t what Vivense is doing.

Vivense is making it easier for customers to overcome the barrier of buying furniture online by displaying a selection of its products together with different fabrics that can be applied to each product at its showroom. While every product cannot be on display, the quality of the products available gives customers the confidence to purchase other products online.

The showroom is also staffed with interior designers who give customers guidance about how to mix and match specific pieces of furniture to achieve the look that they’re looking to produce in a given room. While the high price of traditional interior design services makes it out of reach for most furniture shoppers, Vivense offers the service for free.

Vivense’s showroom staffed with interior designers has given the company’s sales a very strong boost in recent months. A significant fraction of Vivense’s customers live outside of Istanbul so it’s likely that the company will be opening new showrooms in other cities soon.